Goods moving between Scotland and England would be subject to checks on the M6 and the A1, as well as at rail freight terminals, following a break-up of the UK, it was confirmed today.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that if an independent Scotland was to re-join the EU Single Market, as she intends, it would create a trade border between Scotland and England because of Brexit.
Where checks on physical goods are needed, technology would be used, thereby minimising disruption, insisted the First Minister, when asked to elaborate.
Her comments, during the presentation of the economic prospectus for an independent Scotland, confirm claims by the UK In A Changing Europe think tank in February. It said that Scotland will need checkpoints along its border with England for the first time in more than three centuries if it votes for independence and rejoins the European Union.
Today’s prospectus sets out the SNP’s ambition on tying Scotland to sterling until the time is right for a Scottish pound. There would be a Scottish central bank, along with a debt management office and a strengthened Scottish Fiscal Commission to replicate the work of the UK Office for Budget Responsibility.
As an EU member Scotland would re-introduce freedom of movement across the bloc via the Common Travel Area (CTA).
Scotland would, like Ireland, retain freedom of movement within these islands, including the UK and Ireland.
It goes on to say: “For movement of goods, checks between Scotland and the 27 current members of the EU and Northern Ireland would all be eliminated.
“While, because of the UK decision to leave the EU, there would be some checks on goods between Scotland and the rest of the UK, people in Scotland could move freely in both these islands and the EU. We believe that the end result would be better for Scotland.”
Asked whether the checks would be positioned on the M6 – which becomes the A74M when it enters Scotland – and the A1, the First Minister replied: “Yes”.
She added: “We are being candid here about the implications of Scotland being back in the EU when the rest of the UK is out.
“That is a feature of Brexit, and the benefits Scotland gets from that, in my view, outweigh the challenges that we would face.”
The prospectus is part of a series being produced ahead of a planned referendum on Scottish independence, which Ms Sturgeon wants to hold in October next year.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Liz Smith, said: “It’s hard to see what the point of this paper launch was, given that it fails to address the fundamental questions that have always undermined the economic case for independence.
“The SNP are still unable to provide details about how our currency would work, who would pay our pensions, and how we would cope with the potentially devastating effects of a hard border with the rest of the UK.
“Absurdly, they expect the Scottish public to vote on independence without any of these crucial questions being answered.”
Scottish Labour finance spokesperson Daniel Johnson said: “While economic chaos reigns, the SNP is focused on plunging Scotland into even greater turmoil.
“The truth is this – the SNP government has no answers to the key economic questions surrounding independence.
“They have no plan for a central bank worthy of the name and no plan to balance the books in the event of independence.
“Scotland using the currency of another state without a shared political system is a recipe for mayhem.